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The Chosen One
Cover of The Chosen One
The Chosen One
A fundamentalist Islamic army is on the march in the Middle East, and the fight to stop the spread of madness will take everything the American military can muster, in this novel from the author of The Red Line.

Two months ago, a new leader arose in the Islamic world, the Mahdi—or the Chosen One. He has rallied fundamentalist Muslim forces across the Middle East who have driven deep into Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Standing against them is an allied force made up primarily of the American military.
It's a desperate fight. From armored battles in the desert to American carriers desperately dodging waves of cruise missiles, the Mahdi proves to have many tricks up his sleeve.
Marine Lieutenant Sam Erickson is in the thick of the fighting. He and his company have fought their way from a landing on the Mediterranean shore to the outskirts of Cairo. Now he finds himself at a critical juncture, but can he make the sacrifices necessary for the greater good?
A fundamentalist Islamic army is on the march in the Middle East, and the fight to stop the spread of madness will take everything the American military can muster, in this novel from the author of The Red Line.

Two months ago, a new leader arose in the Islamic world, the Mahdi—or the Chosen One. He has rallied fundamentalist Muslim forces across the Middle East who have driven deep into Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Standing against them is an allied force made up primarily of the American military.
It's a desperate fight. From armored battles in the desert to American carriers desperately dodging waves of cruise missiles, the Mahdi proves to have many tricks up his sleeve.
Marine Lieutenant Sam Erickson is in the thick of the fighting. He and his company have fought their way from a landing on the Mediterranean shore to the outskirts of Cairo. Now he finds himself at a critical juncture, but can he make the sacrifices necessary for the greater good?
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    1

    Life is but an illusion. Scarcely more than a whispered dream.

    3:04 a.m., October 17

    3rd Platoon, Bravo Company,

    2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division

    USS Whitaker

    Off the Coast of Egypt

    Leaning against the cramped ship's railing, Marine First Lieutenant Samuel Erickson stared out at the black Mediterranean Sea. The surging ocean's waters, an aftereffect of yesterday evening's storm, crashed against the weathered ship's venerable hull.

    To the north, having arrived within the hour, the ghostly silhouettes of the hushed naval armada stretched to the horizon. In front of Erickson, a sliver of a new moon and a dozen distant stars struggled to peek through the storm-swept clouds in the western sky. In the distance, a solitary flash of lightning waltzed upon the menacing heavens. The frightful sound of rolling thunder reached across the perilous waters. Its riotous discord assailed the night.

    To the south, for hundreds of miles untold, the interminable artillery duels and flaming wreckage from three weeks of unyielding combat painted the fearsome skyline in vividly striking hues of red and yellow. Brilliant, death-filled flashes of man-made lightning went on without pause, its remorseless dance unending. The battle's hellish thunder consumed the North African desert.

    None could have envisioned how quickly things had deteriorated. Or how dire they would become. And with the aircraft carrier battle groups not yet present, the Americans weren't ready. It, however, no longer mattered. With the sunrise barely four hours away, they were out of time. For the Marine division it was now or never. Open a second front in the next few hours or Cairo would fall to the Chosen One's fanatics before the coming day's end. By this time tomorrow, his relentless armored divisions would be crossing the Sinai and nearing Jerusalem.

    Deep in thought of past and future, the lieutenant heard none of the frenzied activity around him as Marines and sailors alike rushed to their positions on the troop transport. Erickson and the twenty-two men of his reconnaissance platoon pressed in close to the undulating rail. Like their leader, each carried a heavy pack. Each cradled a weapon in his arms.

    Next to the lieutenant, the platoon radio operator, Corporal Hamilton Smith, quietly spoke with the flotilla command ship anchored a mile away. The awaited moment was almost here. It wouldn't be long before the order was given. When it was, Erickson's platoon would head for their Zodiac boats. After a wild dash to the beckoning coast, the platoon's stealthy entry onto the spanning desert would commence. Soon, in the dark of night, he'd be the initial American to set foot upon the treacherous shoreline. One hundred miles behind enemy lines he would lead his men onto the warm sands of Egypt. And he would hope for the best.

    Even though the vast majority of the Pan-Arabs' massive army presently were involved in the brutal assaults upon Cairo and Alexandria, there were still ample forces lurking in western Egypt. Who or what the recon platoon might encounter once they reached the immense wastelands, the platoon leader hadn't a clue.

    After a minute, maybe two, Smith's hand grasped his shoulder. Erickson turned to look into the solemn face of the young Marine.

    "Time to shove off, sir." The radioman's voice was scarcely a whisper.

    A pair of Zodiacs, each capable of transporting up to fifteen men, sat waiting. The loading of the small platoon would soon begin. Standing with Gunnery Sergeant...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 30, 2019
    Gragg follows his well-received debut, The Red Line, about a near-future war in Europe, with an uneven military action thriller that pits the U.S. and its allies against a massive Pan-Arab coalition led by Algerian cleric Muhammad Mourad (aka the Chosen One). As in the previous book, the focus is on various individuals as they fight their way through a brutal, all-consuming war. Marine 1st Lt. Samuel Erickson leads a platoon a hundred miles behind enemy lines in the North African desert. Lt. Cmdr. Bradley “Blackjack” Mitchell, a pilot who flies missions from a carrier off the Egyptian coast, more than once rescues Erickson and his men as they battle their way to Cairo. While the weapons are cutting-edge, the political background solid, and the military tactics on point, readers should be prepared for overwrought prose. When one of Erickson’s men is wounded, “The precious streams of life-sustaining liquid that dropped into the pitiful ground went on without pause. His distorted mind screamed from the unending angst.” Some fans of The Red Line may struggle to get through this one. Agent: Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency.

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